Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions that have developed innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading. The National Book Foundation is proud to recognize Hopa Mountain’s StoryMakers program as a winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize.
Hopa Mountain is a Bozeman, Montana-based nonprofit organization that invests in rural and tribal citizen leaders–adults and youth–who work to improve education, ecological health, and economic development. Citizen leaders are those individuals who step forward when they recognize that their community needs help. By providing these leaders with training, mentoring, networking opportunities, and financial resources, Hopa Mountain works to create much needed opportunities for advancing the well-being of rural and tribal communities. Launched in 2006, Hopa Mountain’s StoryMakers program is a proven early learning program that currently provides critically needed resources and support to rural and tribal parents/caregivers of 11,000+ of Montana’s children ages 0-5. In addition to offering parents/caregivers the best information about early care, education, and development, StoryMakers’ volunteer community teams provide guidance and support for local families on how to use books as a tool to encourage positive, interactive activities that improve a child’s brain development, quality of life, and long-term health outcomes.
Over half of Hopa Mountain’s volunteer community teams are located on one of Montana’s seven American Indian Reservations. Generally underrepresented in early childhood literature, children in these tribal communities are given access to beautiful, high quality books written and illustrated by American Indian authors and illustrators. As requested by each community, local Native speakers in these communities translate these StoryMakers books into their Native language. These translations, some of which are baby board books featuring Native American children, provide an enjoyable and meaningful way for families to bond and strengthen interest in the value of books in the home. In geographically isolated communities where literacy resources are not always available, these are sometimes the only books making up a family’s home library.